Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J1762.7. Lobsters mistaken for Norwegians (WTF - Weird Things in Folktales)

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge blog series titled WTF - Weird Things in Folktales! Find the introduction post (explaining the theme) here. Find all other participating blogs in the comments of each day's post on the main blog! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The J section of the Motif index is for The Wise and the Foolish. All the numskull and noodlehead folktales are on this list, as well as moral judgments, such as "J711.1. - Ant and lazy cricket (grasshopper)," or "J1171.1. - Solomon’s judgment." Hands down the best line on the list, however, was this:

J1762.7. Lobsters mistaken for Norwegians

Which is a story from Denmark.

The tale is about a slightly foolish man who lives in a little town in Denmark, and owns a pastry shop. One day news come that a Norwegian ship has arrived to the town's harbor; our friend is very excited, because he has never met real-life Norwegians before. Leaving the shop to his wife, he goes down to the harbor to see them. He is pointed to the Norwegian ship, but when he gets aboard, there is no one there - the sailors had all gone to shore.
What he does meet, however, is a bunch of lobsters that had gotten free from their boxes, and are crawling around on deck. Our man assumes that they must be Norwegians (although he imagined them to be taller). He politely introduces himself to one of them, and offers a hand. The lobster pinches and holds on to his hand, causing a lot of pain. Eventually, he manages to shake it off, and goes home to his shop. When his wife inquires if he'd met the Norwegians he says "Yes. They are very short, but they have strong handshakes!"

(I could not locate the text Thompson referenced, but I found a children's book version of the tale here.)

J21.4. ”Do not marry a girl from abroad“
J21.18. ”Do not trust the over-holy“
J21.47.1. “Do not send your wife for a long visit to her parents”
J21.49. “Never give a cup made of a single ruby as a present to the king”
J23. Merchants try honesty for a year and find that it pays
J25. Why great man plays with children
J52.2. King descends to bottom of sea in glass barrel to learn wisdom from observing fish
J229.8.1. Weaver prefers master with one hedgehog
J411.9.1. King refuses to quarrel with bird
J413.1. Lion licks sick man, who is thereby disgusted
414.3. Unsuccessful marriage of jackals and turtles
J512.15. Frogs want to collect honey like bees
J1309.2. ”How often do you kill your ducks?“ Answer: ”Only once.“
J1361. Monk says that he is a stallion
J1714.3.1. Forty wise men foretell violent rainstorm
J1756. Other animals thought to be a giant cat
J1757. Rabbit thought to be a cow
J1758.1. Tiger mistaken for goat
J1772.4. Culture hero’s pubic hair thought to be bear hair
J1785.1. Grasshopper thought to be the devil
J1971. Fools try to use buffalo tongue as a knife
J2106. Man kills self to make quarrelsome wife a widow
J2119.9. Hero beheads old woman who asks him to cure her of old age
J2133.11. Hedgehog and crab jump from boat after turtle
J2233.1. Innocent man executed because his neck fits the noose
J2275.1. Falling star supposed to have been shot down by astronomer


  1. HAHA this was a funny one! EEW! I don't like lobsters. My parents have eaten them in a so-called romantic setting but I don't have those genes.

  2. Now that's a pretty dumb mistake to make. I think he was a bit too over-excited, which must have skewed his judgement!

  3. This one made me laugh out loud - funny and not at all disturbing, unlike a couple in your list. Buffalo tongue knifes and bear hair pubic hair - the mind boggles.

    Pamela @ Highlands Days of Fun

  4. Okay, I almost spat out my tea when I read your post title today! I think the most unfortunate of the runners up today is the innocent man executed because his neck fitted the noose!
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  5. Funny how neighbouring countries always poke fun at each other.
    This tale also hints at "the short man syndrome"!
    Laughed out loud today:) Thank you.
    J is for JOYN

  6. Did the Norwegians come up with their own folktale to poke fun at the Danes? I hope so.

    Jayus: Exotic Words with no English Equivalent

  7. What a super story - he had some guts to try and shake hands with a lobster.

    Justify #Lexicon of Leaving

  8. that sounds kind of dumb, did the man not expect humans? suppose that is how people greets aliens because you don't know what they look like and I guess if there are no expectations, then, there really is not much surprises.

    have a lovely day.

    ~ my J post - Jeopardy ~

  9. Danes don't think much of Norwegians, do they?

    Just the title of today's story is brilliant. You can quit and go home now, you've won the A-to-Z challenge.

    The only other story on today's list that's even close is "Lion licks sick man, who is thereby disgusted." I'm looking for a punch line or a metaphor or something, but it's perfect just the way it is.

  10. I think the lobsters got the best deal out of this - walking away from the ship hopefully to their freedom.

    Should the occasion arise I'm going to have to remember “Never give a cup made of a single ruby as a present to the king." I'm thinking perhaps I want to keep it for myself anyway.

  11. Ha! I'll have to ask our Danish exchange student about this one when she arrives in a couple months.

  12. Lobsters confused with Norwegians... Yeah, I make that mistake all the time.

  13. Ha ha! Cute tale. Wonder if she ever met them for herself.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Jama Bridge Jumping

  14. I had to go back and see if this was a Danish or Norwegian tale. That shopkeeper was more foolish than Riley on the old radio show, "The Life of Riley". And that's not easy to do.
    Finding Eliza

  15. okay, maybe he's a half-wit like in 10th kingdom. wow. i have no idea what to say after that. it was hilarious!

  16. That fellow seems to have a few marbles lose upstairs!

  17. Strong handshake! :) He needs his head examining,what was he thinking? Today's fav among the runners up got to be the buffalo tongue knife no question. Wondering what they managed to cut with it? :)


  18. Lol! As weird as this is...I think I've heard this story before and it's still just as amusing hehe! :D

    Here's my "J" post :)

  19. Well, he looks to have quite a philosofical stance toward his adventure :-)
    That's was fun.

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir